Between the uprightness of my conscience and the hardness of my lot,
I know not how either to show respect to my feelings or to the times.
The bitterness of my mind urges me at all hazards to speak what I think,
whereas the necessity of the times prompts me, however unbecomingly,
to keep silence.
Good God!
Which way shall I turn myself?

Thomas Becket

(5 o’clock somewhere / Julie Cook / 2020)

Way back in the early ’80s, I was but a young naive, early twenty-something art teacher.

As an art educator, I thought it was my duty, meaning I had the bright idea,
that I should create a European adventure in order to take my students upon—
one that would focus on the great art capitals of Europe.


Note to self…when you are mid-twenties…don’t take teens on a trip…
especially out of the country.

And don’t do it when terrorism was actually becoming a thing
and there was no such things as cell phones.

That will be another story for another day.

However, for now, I want to share one little story.

At that time, as a young art teacher, who had recently been a young student myself,
I had a deep love and fascination with all things Italian.

I had minored in Art History with a focus on the Italian Renaissance.
Italy was, to me, the mecca of the art world.
And to truly appreciate such, I had immersed myself in all things Italian.

As a kid, I always loved Italian food, albeit 1960’s Americana Italian.
As an adopted kid, I just knew my true roots were Italian.

Was I not the secret love child of Sophia Loren???

Yet sadly that all actually proved to be a Scotch / Irish and English background,
but I digress.

So when our little adventure finally brought us to Italian soil, I had the
bright idea that I would, by gosh, treat myself to a quintessential Italian drink…

That glistening brilliant red Italian liqueur.
I had seen all the famous advertisement posters… Campari was THE
Italian drink…

I remember marching up to a bar at a disco we had taken to kids to enjoy
and boldly telling the bartender I would like a Campari on the rocks.

Oh I felt so Sophia Lorenesque—-waiting on Dean Martin to come croon me a sweet Italian
love song.

I was so excited, so full of expectation…that was all until I brought that glass to my
expectant lips and took a big swallow.

There are no words for the nano-moments following.

It was a swallow followed by a quick spitting out what remained in my mouth.

Oh my great heavens above, I had just ingested kerosene!!!

A fire was now coursing down my throat as the bitter taste of poison cloyingly
coated my mouth.

If not some sublime red delightful liquid, what in the heck was Campari!!!?????

Oh, what my naivete and immature taste did not understand of aperitifs and digestifs
and more importantly bitters.

A story I now recall fondly as I’ve actually acquired quite the taste for Campari–
albeit mixed with a bit of lime and prosecco.
In more of a spritz verses that of a hardcore sipper.

And all this talk of bitters brings me full circle to our lives today.

For we are living during some bitter days.

A shadowy Spector seems to be waiting on each of us with some sort of sadistic
bated breath.

We are finding ourselves isolated, dislocated and as if living in some strange foreign land.

Our world has been literally turned upside down.

And how ironic that we should find ourselves in the midst of one of the holiest times
in all of Christendom—the week leading to Good Friday…and eventually Easter.

A time of jubilation followed by humility, betrayal, torture, and eventually death…

It is a bitter time.
A time of gall and bile.
A time of blood and vomit.

Not a pretty picture.
Not a picture of sweet little bunnies and precious little lambs.

This is a time of reality.

A time of life, lies, deceit, and death.

And how odd that our world now is actually walking the same sacred
walk we Christians have walked now for nearly 2000 years…
the Via Dolorosa…

A painful and difficult journey.

Yet what we followers of Christ already know…
the ending is not nearly as tragic as the world would have us believe.

Victory, in the end, is truly ours.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning,
nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

24 comments on “Bitterness

  1. says:

    I love this analogy. My downfall at that age of awakening was martinis. My dad drank them occasionally. I loved olives too. I was not prepared for the taste. However I became accustomed to it. I haven’t had a martini in at least 40 years. The sting remains.

  2. […] via Bitterness — cookiecrumbstoliveby […]

  3. Tricia says:

    Oh Campari mixed with Prosecco sounds lovely about now! Of course it’s still coffee time here so that’s what I’m sticking with. 😉

    Your post rings true on many levels. We are at such a weird time of tragedy and severe misinformation overload. The country is becoming even more divided as truth exits the scene and the grip of statism hardens. Neighbors are tattling on on another, cops are issuing tickets out here to people watching the sunset, drones are flying overhead in NYC warning people about social distancing rules. Are we really that far of from “Papers please?”

    But you’re right Jesus eventually rises from the dead and victory is ours. That is the only truth that matters.

    • If you don’t already read The Curmudgeon blog- you need to read today’s post Sensa Huma— it’s about a tweet football coach mike leach posted, one I’ve seen in our quarantine circuit— simple humor— it’s the pic of an old woman knitting and it reads “after two weeks of quarantine Gertrude is knitting’s something special for her husband”— it’s a noose—
      I’ve seen the one about the wife taking up gardening but she won’t tell her husband what she’s going to plant but the image is obviously a grave— these are funny and hit a laugh during our dark days and moods —well it seems one of the coaches players wrote what the f— finding offense in the meme— as his mind turned it all into a racial pointing to lynching and is now transferring schools—- the coach has removed the tweeted meme and apologized— some are telling him no need to apologize while others grow ever more idiotic and hostile— this is the time like no other— it’s still coffee time here as well—or if we want to call it brunch — I’ll certainly take a drink—!!!!🤯

  4. hatrack4 says:

    If you loved Campari, try Chinese Moutai. I think that’s the Chinese word for kerosene. You’ll still be tasting it three days later, and they challenge you to drink in bottoms up straight – that is until someone passes out. I might do it once, but then I just sipped. I tried to be social with customers, but not crazy.

    • True that— I’ll stick to Campari 🥳🤩

    • Dawn Marie says:

      Moutai is the absolute WORST!!!

      Green Chartreuse VEP (not the cordial kind carried at most bars) is the one to go with. Made by the Carthusian Monks it is thought to be the ‘elixir of life’ & guaranteed to cure you of ill health, and rid any evil-spirits. Only 3 monks at any given time possess the recipe.
      I think we need to suggest including this in the Corana-Cure….

      • Oooooo- I must seek this out!

      • Dawn Marie says:

        It does not disappoint! A tidge difficult to find I must admit. (We’ve had to order ours through NY distributors, many times.) Be sure to ask that it be sold WITH the wooden box it is packed in. Each bootle has it’s own wooden box, unlike the normal cardboard ones – and it is worth having!

  5. SharaC says:

    Love the mix here of good aperitifs and Easter wisdom!! Is this the stuff that goes into the famous aperol spritz? It always looks so inviting and summery… and, it’s beginning to hit me more and more that the timing here is no mere coincidence, Holy Week this year certainly won’t have much in the way of the fluff we are used to… and maybe that’s ok. Sad, but ok. Xxx

    • An aperol spritz uses aperol vs Campari —it’s not as bitter and makes for a lighter brighter taste— Prosecco and a splash of soda— accented with a slice of orange really refreshing on a hot humid day!
      As for bitter— I think we’ve each been handed a long tall glass 😑

  6. Thank God, for victory in Christ!

  7. oneta hayes says:

    Laughing, but why ever did you go back for a second swallow? In spite of all the victories I have had and knowing full well I would not have had the victory if I had not had the “bitter” experience, I still would not wish myself to take a second round of it. Thanks for the sharing and the laughter that goes with it. That 20-something dreamer had nice roots even if not Italian.

  8. Dawn Marie says:

    A very clever analogy Julie. Counting the hours, minutes, seconds for the end of Lent. I have never given up alcohol before as my Lenten sacrifice and wouldn’t you know it, of ALL years I chose to do so this year!!!! Not my best move…..
    I will be celebrating with much needed libations this year’s Resurrection in style! Giggles.

    • Oh my! I probably should have given up alcohol but I didn’t— and thus each evening I concoct something timely— Friday is usually reserved for gimlets— but tonight was Campari to recall the bitter gall— Sunday will be a bottle pol roger to celebrate! Churchill’s favorite champagne— quite fitting for celebrating overcoming!!!!

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